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he Arabs 

p Israel 


12 6-5 



It 0-815375-8 









JANUARY, 1952 


Published by the 

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Historical Background 

The Arabs of Palestine numbered at the end of 1947 approxi- 
mately 1,300,000, of whom 1,170,000 were Moslems and 130,000 
Christians. Of this total about 700,000 lived in the territory now 
constituting the State of Israel. The Christians were sub-divided 
into numerous communities — Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics, 
Latins, Maronites and several Protestant denominations. There were, 
in addition to the Arabs, small groups of religious and national 
minorities, such as Druzes, Circassians, Armenians, etc. According 
to their social status and locality, the Arabs of Palestine comprised 
about 850,000 villagers, 400,000 town dwellers and 50,000 to 60,000 
nomads and semi-nomads (Beduin). 

The average living standards of the Palestinian Arabs were rather 
high compared with those of the neighbouring Arab countries. Their 
villages prospered. Their citrus groves and other fruit plantations 
expanded from year to year. Even the economy of the ordinary 
fellah had reached some degree of modernisation. Arab commerce 
was ramified and well developed. It was served by two Arab national 
banks and by the international banks working in the country. 
Industry, too, was showing significant progress. Apart from the 
old trades and crafts, the first beginnings of a modern industrial 
development were discernible, especially in the textile, tobacco 
and building materials branches. 

Health conditions were improving steadily. Infantile mortality 
had decreased from 186 per thousand in 1922 to 90 in 1946. The 
general death rate diminished correspondingly, and the expecta- 
tion of life at birth was higher among Palestinian Arabs than 
among any other Arab community in the Middle East. TJhe 
Government health services were more advanced than in the 
adjoining Arab countries, although the Arabs themselves showed 

little independent effort in this sphere. The general progress was 
also reflected in the educational sphere. Illiteracy decreased from 
year to year. The percentage of children attending elementary 
schools was estimated by the Mandatory authorities to average 48 
percent for both sexes and 70 percent for male children — a sub- 
stantially higher ratio than in the neighbouring Arab countries. 
Secondary schools were also comparatively well frequented, and 
year after year hundreds of Arab youths left Palestine for university 
study abroad. 

This remarkable progress was due in significant degree to the 
sweeping advances made by the country under the impact of the 
Jewish effort of reconstruction. For more than six decades the Jews 
had been pouring their energy, skill and resources into the recla- 
mation of their ancient land. The effect was a transformation for 
which there was no parellel in the Middle East. Jewish resettle- 
ment produced a growing internal market for Arab produce and 
brought prosperity to the fellahin who represented the mass of 
the population. The example of the Jewish settlers and their 
scientific methods had a stimulating effect on Arab farming. The 
work of the Jewish research institutes in the fields of animal and 
plant disease, the discovery of industrial uses for surplus agricul- 
tural products and the opening up by Jewish effort of new water 
resources gave a powerful impetus to Arab rural progress. At the 
same time Jewish citriculture, industry, building and import pro- 
vided profitable employment to Arab labour and raised the standards 
of the Arab working population. The notable achievements of the 
Jewish labour movement acted as an incentive for Arab trade 
union organisation. The large Jewish contribution to the revenue 
enabled the Government to grant considerable tax relief to the 
Arab rural population and to expand the country's health, educa- 
tion and social services. Jewish antimalaria work and reclamation 
greatly benefitted the Arab population, which also was served by 
Jewish public health and welfare institutions all over the country. 
The most striking result of these developments was the steady 
growth of the Arab population: during the thirty years of the 
Mandate it increased by more than one hundred percent. "The 
general beneficent effect of Jewish immigration on Arab welfare", 
wrote the Palestine Royal Commission in 1937, "is illustrated by 
the fact that the increase in the Arab population is most marked 
in urban areas affected by Jewish development." (p. 129). 


The significant economic and cultural progress thus made by 
the Arabs of Palestine during the Mandatory era failed, however, 
to mitigate in the slightest degree their bitter hostility to Jewish 
immigration and development activities to which these achieve- 
ments were due in such large measure. This hostility, which found 
expression in violent agitation, in boycott campaigns and in repeated 
murderous outbreaks against the Jewish population, became the 
dominant feature of the country's political life and monopolised 
public and social forces in the Arab community. Arabs who 
aspired to a peaceful accord between the two peoples were few 
and lacked the vigour to render their efforts effective. So intense, 
indeed, was the general atmosphere of hostility that even those 
seeking an agreed solution could voice their views only behind 
closed doors while publicly endorsing the nationalist programme. 

Political control finally became concentrated in the hands of 
the Arab Higher Committee, which enjoyed undisputed authority 
among the Arabs inside Palestine and the support of the League 
outside. The chairmanship of the Committee was reserved for the 
absent "Leader", the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. 
After having been a close collaborator of Hitler during the World 
War, Haj Amin managed in 1946 to find shelter and establish his 
headquarters in Cairo. The more important members of the Arab 
Higher Committee were Jamal al-Husseini,, Dr. Hussein al-Khaldi, 
Ahmed Hilmi Pasha and Emil Ghoury. The Committee succeeded 
during the final phase in merging the two para-military formations, 
Al-Futuwa and An-Najjada, into the militant "Organisation of Arab 
Youth" which constituted the spearhead of the subsequent Arab 
onslaught on the Jews. 

Such in brief was the position of the Arabs of Palestine when 
the General Assembly of the United Nations, by its resolution 
of 29 November 1947, recommended the establishment in Palestine 
of two independent States, one Jewish and one Arab. Had the 
Arabs accepted and implemented the decision, they would have 
secured sovereign control of half the country, could all have 
remained in their homes and would have obtained a major share 
of the material benefits accruing from the proposed Economic 
Union with the Jewish State. This, however, was not to be. No 
sooner was the decision of the General Assembly announced than 
the Arabs utterly rejected it and rose in arms against their Jewish 

neighbours. The Arab Higher Committee led the campaign with 
the active and passive support of the mass of the Arab population. 
The members of the Committee who resided in Cairo and Damascus 
took charge of finance, supplies and equipment as well as of liaison 
with the Arab League and the several Arab States. Those who 
remained in Jerusalem assumed the strategic and tactical direction 
of operations, the distribution of the equipment and funds received 
from the Arab countries, the deployment of forces and the execu- 
tion of the directives received from Cairo and Damascus. The top 
commanders in the field were Abd al-Kader al-Husseini in the 
district of Jerusalem and Hassan Salama in the Jaffa-Ramie region. 
In the north, where no local leader emerged, command was taken 
over by Fawzi al-Qawuqji from Syria, who placed himself at the 
head of the so-called "Liberation Army" consisting of volunteers 
from Palestine, Syria and the Lebanon. 

The War Against Israel 

In the Arab-Israel war, four principal phases may be distin- 
guished. In all except the last, that of the invasion of Palestine 
by the armies of the neighbouring States, the Arabs of Palestine 
took the leading part. 

From December 1947 to January 1948 the Arab campaign took 
the form of sporadic guerilla activities reminiscent of the distur- 
bances of 1936-39. There were hit and run attacks on isolated 
Jewish settlements and town quarters and on Jewish road transport. 
There was looting and burning of Jewish property, shops and 
warehouses situated in Arab quarters. This phase of operations 
was conducted entirely by Palestinian Arabs, though part of the 
financial resources and military equipment came from the neigh- 
bouring Arab countries. The Arab population also provided the 
fighters with shelter, food and weapons. Gradually the conflict 
grew in scope and intensity. It became unsafe for any Jew to leave 
the Jewish areas. All over the country attacks on Jewish highway 
traffic, villages and town quarters became the order of the day. The 
Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road, the border zone between Jaffa and Tel 
Aviv, the Jewish sections of Haifa and the isolated agricultural 
outposts in the Negev became principal targets. Jewish road trans- 
port was ambushed with heavy loss of life. Access to the Jewish 

Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and to the University and 
the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus was rendered unsafe. 
Shooting on the borders of Jewish settlement areas became con- 
tinuous and took a heavy toll. Soon the fighting came to engulf 
also the Valley of Jesreel and the Jewish sections of Galilee and 
the Jordan Valley. Within a few weeks the whole country was 
reduced to a state of general warfare. 

The campaign was marked from the very beginning by a quite 
unprecedented intensity and violence. The aim was not merely 
to win a military and political victory over the Jews, but to wipe 
out or eject the entire Jewish population. It was a war & Toidrance, 
in which all sections of the Arab community took part. A state- 
ment made at a press conference by Azzam Pasha, the Secretary 
General of the Arab League, on 15 May 1948, the eve of the 
general invasion, gave forcible expression to the general character 
and aim of the offensive: "This", he said, "will be a war of exter- 
mination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of 
like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades". (B.B.C. news 
broadcast). Similar utterances abounded in the Arab press and in 
broadcasts from Arab countries. Arab guerilla forces showed from 
the outset barbarous cruelty and an utter disregard of the rules 
of war. They took no prisoners. If a Jewish force was outnumbered, 
it was annihilated to the last man. The wounded were frequently 
maimed and left to die on the battlefield. The dead were muti- 
lated in the most revolting fashion. Photographs of mutilated bodies 
were reproduced in albums and sold in the streets of Jerusalem. 
In an interview which Fawzi al-Qawuqji gave to a representative 
of the Paris "Le Monde" he frankly admitted that the Arabs 
showed no consideration for the rules of war. "The Jews cannot 
be regarded as a nation like the Americans or Chinese; they are 
highway robbers to whom international rules of law do not apply". 
( Cited in "as-Sarih", 16 February 1948 ) . Any Jewish village or town 
quarter which in the course of this war came to be occupied by 
Arab forces, such as the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, 
the villages of the Kfar Etzion bloc to the south and of Ataroth and 
Neve Yaacov to the north of Jerusalem, and the settlement of Beit 
Haarava at the northern end of the Dead Sea, were wiped out 
of existence. The Resolution of the General Assembly of 29 November 
1947 had envisaged that after the partition of Palestine there would 

be Arabs in the Jewish, and Jews in the Arab State. There are at 
present 170,000 Arabs living in the State of Israel. There is not a 
single Jew left in any part of Palestine that fell under Arab control. 

The second phase of the Arab attack against the Jews began 
in February 1948 when the Arab "Liberation Army" invaded Pales- 
tine from the north. This force consisted to a considerable extent 
of Palestinian Arabs who had crossed into Syria and the Lebanon, 
there to receive their military training. Nor could the "Liberation 
Army" have operated in the wide area from the Lebanese border 
to the vicinity of Nablus, in which it exercised control, without 
the active cooperation and support of the local Arab population. 
The arrival of the "Liberation Army" gave new impetus and 
strength to the Arab campaign. Local guerillas commanded by 
Syrian officers made constant attacks on Jewish settlements in 
Galilee, in the Sharon and in the Jerusalem area, some of which 
assumed the form of well planned military operations in which 
artillery was for the first time used against the Jews. 

The third phase, from the end of March to the 15th May 1948 
— when the British Mandate terminated and the State of Israel 
was proclaimed — witnessed the main large-scale combat between 
the Arabs of Palestine and its Jews. It included the fight for the 
Jerusalem highway, culminating in the conquest by the Jews of 
Castel Hill (April 9th), the battles of Mishmar Haemek (April 7th) 
and Ramat Yohanan (April 12th), the occupation by Jewish forces 
of Tiberias (April 18th), Haifa (April 22nd), Safed (May 10th), 
Jaffa (May 13th) and Acre (May 18th). It was this phase which 
marked the end of the fighting effort of the Palestinian Arabs and 
created the situation encountered by the Arab armies of invasion. 
For what these forces found on entering the country was not a 
fighting Arab citizenry, but — with the exception of the rump of 
the "Liberation Army" — scattered remnants of an abandoned 
flock. The fact that the civil and military leaders were the first 
to flee and to abandon the population to its fate played a decisive 
part in the Arab debacle. 

The Arab Exodus 

The first and foremost result of the mass hysteria that seized the 
Arab population as the breakdown and disintegration of their fighting 

forces and the desertion of their leadership became evident, was a 
stream of refugees leaving the country. About 30,000, mostly of the 
well-to-do classes, but also villagers in the Sharon, had left the 
country during the first phase of the disturbances to wait in safety 
until the storm blew over, as they had done in the troubled years 
of 1936/39. By the beginning of April, 1948, the flight had assumed 
mass proportions, the number of emigres being estimated at over 
130,000. In May, Faris al-Khoury, the Syrian delegate at the United 
Nations, was speaking already of 250,000. 

The exodus was the result in the first place of fear and of the 
despair caused by the debacle. The Arabs had hoped not merely to 
inflict a crushing defeat upon the Jews, but to liquidate them com- 
pletely and loot their possessions. It was understandable that the 
average Arab, knowing what he had intended to do to his Jewish 
neighbour, should expect that the victorious Jew would mete out a 
similar fate to him. Apart from this general fear, there was the not 
unnatural apprehension of individual retaliation. Such terrible things 
had been done that not a few felt uneasy at the prospect of impend- 
ing retribution. The one and single instance of Jewish atrocity, the 
destruction of the Arab village of Deir Yassin by a group of Jewish 
extremists acting throughout in defiance of the Jewish national and 
military authorities and sternly disowned by the organised Jewish 
community, added fuel to the flames, the more so as it was merci- 
lessly exploited by the Arab press and broadcasts — a tragic illustra- 
tion of the boomerang effect of Arab propaganda on their own people. 

The second cause was the direct orders issued to the population 
by the Arab Higher Committee and military commanders to leave 
the country in anticipation of the invasion of the Arab armies. They 
were warned to keep out of harm's way and promised that they 
would return within a short time in the wake of the victorious Arab 
forces, to regain possession of their belongings and secure in addition 
a handsome share in the expected war booty. They were warned at 
the same time that anyone staying on behind and submitting to 
Jewish rule would be regarded as a traitor and appropriately pun- 
ished once victory was achieved. 

Most of the fugitives were firmly convinced that they would 
return within a very short time. This is borne out by innumerable 
comments in the Arab press and radio broadcasts. An interview 
given by the Arab Greek Catholic Archbishop of Galilee, Msgr. 


George Hakim, to the Lebanese "Sada al-Janub" on 16 August 1948 
may be quoted as an illustration. "The refugees," the Archbishop 
said, "had been confident that their absence from Palestine would 
not last long, that they would return within a few days — within a 
week or two. Their leaders had promised them that the Arab armies 
would crush the 'Zionist gangs' very quickly and that there was no 
need for panic or fear of a long exile." In much the same way Emil 
Ghoury, the Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, writing in 
the Beirut "Telegraph" of 6 August 1948, frankly placed the responsi- 
bility for the Arab mass flight on the Arab Governments. "The fact," 
he wrote, "that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of 
the Arab States being in opposition to partition and to the Jewish 
State, and they must share in the solution of this problem. It is 
inconceivable that the refugees should be sent back to their homes 
while they are occupied by the Jews. . . . The very proposal is an 
evasion of responsibility on the part of those responsible. It would 
serve as a first step towards Arab recognition of the State of Israel 
and of partition. Indeed, many people regard this as evidence of 
an intention on the part of those responsible to evade taking the 
necessary action for the rescue of Palestine." 

Habib Issa, editor of "Al-Huda," the principal Lebanese news- 
paper in the United States, writing on June 8th, 1951, on "The Arab 
League and the Palestine refugees," stated: "The Secretary-General 
of the Arab League, Abd ar-Rahman Azzam Pasha, published 
numerous declarations assuring the Arab peoples and all others that 
the occupation of Palestine and of Tel Aviv would be as simple as 
a military promenade for the Arab armies. Azzam Pasha's statements 
pointed out that armies were already on the frontiers and that all 
the millions that the Jews had spent on land and on economic 
development would surely be easy booty for the Arabs, since it 
would be a simple matter to throw the Jews to the bottom of the 
Mediterranean Sea. As the time for the British withdrawal drew 
nearer, the zeal of the Arab League was redoubled. . . . Brotherly 
advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine, urging them to leave 
their land, homes and property and go to stay temporarily in neigh- 
bouring, brotherly States, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies 
mow them down. The Palestinian Arabs had no choice but to obey 
the advice' of the League and to believe what Azzam Pasha and 
other responsible men in the League told them — that their with- 


drawal from their lands and their country was only temporary and 
would end in a few days with the successful termination of the Arab 
'punishment' action against Israel." 

It was in vain that the Jewish authorities, civil and military, 
pleaded with the Arab population to stop their panic flight. Indeed, 
from the beginning of the disturbances every effort had been made 
by the Jewish public bodies, national and local, to maintain peaceful 
relations with the Arabs. Since early in December 1947 leaflets were 
distributed in Arab villages and towns urging the people to main- 
tain the peace and not allow themselves to be swayed by war- 
mongers into hostile acts against their Jewish neighbours. Broadcasts 
in the same vein were sent out almost daily in Arabic by the Jewish 
radio station. The Arabic press of those days bears witness to the 
fact that these broadcasts were listened to by many thousands of 
Palestinian Arabs. In almost every resolution adopted during those 
critical months by the Jewish Agency, the "Vaad Leumi" ( General 
Council of Palestine Jews ) and the Jewish municipalities and local 
councils, there were urgent pleas to the Arabs to restore the peace 
and stay in their homes on terms of good neighbourliness. 

When the exodus began, the Jewish community councils of 
Tiberias, Haifa, Safed and other places affected addressed urgent 
appeals to the panic-stricken population not to leave. A report by 
a high British police officer in Haifa to Police Headquarters of the 
Mandatory Administration in Jerusalem of 26 April 1948 states: 
"Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab popu- 
lace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops 
and businesses open and to be assured that their lives and interests 
will be safe." Two days later the same source reported: "The Jews 
are still making every effort to persuade the Arab populace to remain 
and settle back in their normal lives in the town."* All these pleas 
proved ineffective as the Arab press and broadcasting stations warned 
the Arab population not to believe the assurances of the Jewish 
authorities and not to give heed to their appeals to remain in the 
country. Perhaps the most striking illustration of Arab evacuation 
by peremptory command was the Arab exodus from Haifa. On April 
21st, 1948, the local Arab leaders of Haifa concluded a truce with 

* Reproduced photostatically in "The Army of Israel" by Moshe Pearlman, 
Philosophical Library, New York, 1950, p. 116. 


the Jewish authorities and defence forces. By its terms the Arab 
population was to continue its normal life in the city. The Arab 
Higher Committee, however, did not permit this truce to be imple- 
mented, as it implied Arab recognition of Jewish authority, and 
under its pressure the Haifa Arab leaders were compelled to reverse 
their decision, disavow their signatures and order the immediate 
evacuation of Haifa by all its Arab inhabitants.** 

This is how the London "Economist" of October 2nd, 1948, 
quoting a British eye-witness, described what happened in Haifa 
in those fateful days: "During subsequent days the Jewish authori- 
ties, who were now in complete control of Haifa (save for limited 
districts still held by the British troops), urged all Arabs to remain 
in Haifa and guaranteed them protection and security. As far as I 
know, most of the British civilian residents whose advice was asked 
by Arab friends told the latter that they would be wise to stay. 
However, of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa, not more 
than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. . . . Various factors influenced their 
decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the 
most potent of these factors were the announcements made over the 
air by the Arab Higher Executive, urging all Arabs in Haifa to quit. 
The reason given was that upon the final withdrawal of the British, 
the combined armies of the Arab States would invade Palestine and 
"drive the Jews into the sea," and it was clearly intimated that those 
Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would 
be regarded as renegades." 

Not all groups of the Arab population acted upon the misguided 
advice of the Arab Higher Committee and its commanders. A number 
of Arab villages and semi-nomadic tribes who had made their peace 
with the Israel authorities and defence forces remained in their 
settlements. One of these groups, the tribe of al-Heib in north-eastern 
Galilee, even joined the Israel forces and constituted themselves a 
cavalry unit fighting the invading "Liberation Army." Another Mos- 

* s On the Jewish conquest of Haifa the British High Commissioner reported 
as follows to the Colonial Secretary: "The Jewish attack in Haifa was a direct 
consequence of continuous attacks by Arabs on Jews over the previous four days. 
The attack was carried out by the Hagana and there was no massacre." ( "Pales- 
tine Post," 25 April 1948). A statement in similar terms was made by Sir 
Alexander Cadogan in the Security Council on 23 April 1948. ( Security Council, 
Official Records, No. 62, p. 9. ) 


lem group, belonging to the Ahmadiya (Qadhiani) community, also 
abstained from taking part in the hostilities against Israel, remaining 
in the country and continuing their religious and cultural activities 
under the new conditions. Of the Druze community, numbering 
15,000 souls, not a single one left the country. They all maintained 
friendly relations with their Jewish neighbours and accepted the 
State of Israel at an early date. They, too, raised units to join the 
Jewish Defence against Qawuqjf s forces. Of the Arab Christians — 
even though they were for the most part town-dwellers and the 
townspeople were in general the first to flee — a much smaller per- 
centage emigrated than of the Moslems. While of the approximately 
630,000 Moslems who lived in 1947 in the area now constituting the 
territory of Israel about 500,000 (i.e. 80 percent) left their homes, 
only about 35,000 to 40,000 Christians (i.e. half of the 70,000 living 
in the area) became refugees. The remainder stayed behind as citi- 
zens of Israel. 

The Aftermath of the War 

When the clouds of war had lifted, the new Government of Israel, 
in approaching the problem presented by the Arab minority in its 
territory, found itself faced with a situation of bewildering com- 
plexity. The Arabs who remained in the country had suffered a 
profound psychological upheaval as well as a fundamental dislo- 
cation of their social and economic life. Many villages had been 
badly damaged during the fighting. Agricultural implements and 
machinery, stock, seeds, etc., had been destroyed. Nearly all the 
great landowners and most of the wealthy peasants, the semi-feudal 
leaders and influential families to whom the average peasant had 
looked for support and guidance in his day-to-day social and eco- 
nomic life, had fled. The old markets and trade customs had gone. 
The Arab countryside had shrunk and its relationship with the 
centres of urban life had been completely transformed. 

The position in the towns was even more disastrous. Whereas the 
villager who stayed on had at least kept his land and could start 
afresh, the townsman who remained behind found himself deprived 
of the whole basis of his material existence. Landlords had lost their 
tenants; bankers, businessmen and lawyers, their clientele; clerks 
and Government officials, their jobs. 


But the collapse was not confined merely to the economic founda- 
tions of Arab society. The whole social fabric of Arab life had fallen 
apart. The old parties, societies, clubs and newspapers had vanished 
overnight. The political and municipal leaders had left and none 
had taken their place. More fundamental still, the shock of finding 
themselves utterly defeated and reduced to the position of an uneasy 
minority had thoroughly unhinged Arab mentality. The military 
collapse had also produced an acute moral crisis. It had proved to 
the Arab population that they had been misled by their leaders and 
abandoned by them in the hour of their direst need. The result was 
a bitter disillusionment and a general apathy towards everything 
political. Resentment against their former leaders did not, however, 
make the Arab population more friendly disposed towards Israel. 
The new State was regarded with deep suspicion, not infrequently 
with violent hatred. It could hardly be otherwise. Hatred for every- 
thing Jewish had been preached for so long that it could scarcely 
be thrown off at one stroke. Sullen and embittered, the Arab rem- 
nant faced the new situation. None knew what the morrow held in 
store. Moreover, many still refused to believe that the new State 
of Israel had come to stay. The threats of a "second round" heard 
day after day in the broadcasts from the neighbouring countries 
were hardly designed to reconcile them to the new regime. As long 
as the Arab States refused to recognize Israel and openly proclaimed 
that they were still at war with Israel, the average Arab inhabitant 
could scarcely be expected to settle down under the new conditions, 
for to do so might expose him to the charge of treachery when the 
Arab armies came to recapture the country. The dilemma was all 
the more acute as these threats came from the most authoritative 
leaders of the Arab States, members of government and high army 
officers. Mohammed Salah ad-Din Pasha, the present Egyptian 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, for instance, declared in an article in 
"al-Misri," leading Egyptian daily, on 11 October, 1949, that the 
United Nations Resolution then adopted on the return of the refu- 
gees conflicted with the earlier United Nations Resolution on the 
partition of Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel. 
A prerequisite for the return of the refugees, he said, is "the com- 
plete expulsion of Israel from Palestine." He added: 

"Let it therefore be known and appreciated that in demanding the 
restoration of the refugees to Palestine, the Arabs intend that they 

return as the masters of the homeland and not as slaves. More 
explicitly: they intend to annihilate the State of Israel." 

Not infrequently these inciting articles and broadcasts referred spe- 
cifically to the Arabs in Israel who were assigned the task of a fifth 
column in the coming war of revenge. Thus, for example, the 
Lebanese "As-Sayyad" of April 6th, 1950, in advocating, as an initial 
stratagem, Arab recognition of the State of Israel, declared that by 
such recognition 

"the return of all the refugees to their homes would be secured. 
Thereby we should;, on the one hand, eliminate the refugee prob- 
lem and, on the other, create a large Arab majority that would 
serve as the most effective means of reviving the Arab character 
of Palestine while forming a powerful fifth column for the day of 
revenge and reckoning." 

It was under such conditions that the State of Israel had to find 
ways and means of integrating its Arab population. It had to do so 
at a time when the war against Israel was either still raging or 
merely adjourned sine die, and when after actual fighting had ceased 
on the conclusion of armistice agreements, the obstinate refusal of 
the Arabs States to enter into any peace negotiations lent ominous 
weight to the threats of a coming second round. Under such condi- 
tions, considerations of security and self-preservation inevitably 
dominated the Israel approach to the Arab problem. It was clearly 
not safe to lift security restrictions on Arab movement in the border 
areas or extend facilities for the return of Arab emigres while the 
danger of a resumption of war was ever present and real: it was 
difficult to find ways of reconstituting Arab economic life as long 
as the Arab population itself was not yet prepared to accept the 
new order. The complexity of the issue was further aggravated by 
the acute problem of Arab marauders and robber gangs constantly 
infiltrating across Israel's frontiers. For some considerable time past 
groups of such infiltrators have continually been entering Israel 
territory, at times almost in nightly succession. Many of them were 
armed, some clearly directed by outside agencies. They have left 
a trail of blood and pillage in almost every frontier region. Accord- 
ing to official statistics, up to June, 1951, eighty-six inhabitants of 
Israel — apart from Israel military personnel — were murdered by 
these gangs, and a large number wounded. Property to an estimated 
value of half a million pounds was stolen or destroyed. Up to March, 
1951, 1,369 illegal entrants had been arrested by the Israel police, 



but these represented only a small fraction of the total. It is clear 
that these large and continual incursions could not have been carried 
out without the active aid of Arabs in Israel. 

Not all infiltrators came with criminal intentions. Many entered 
the country with a view to settling there. Nearly 24,000 Arabs who 
crossed into Israel territory were allowed to remain and were legal- 
ised as citizens of Israel. An additional 18,000 are estimated to be 
illegally resident in the country. There are further some 20,000 Arabs 
who during the hostilities moved to areas which were then outside 
the control of Israel, and were overtaken by the advancing Israel 
forces. The majority of these refugees have been offered resettle- 
ment by the Government of Israel with the help of U.N. relief agen- 
cies, though they cannot always be re-established in the same places 
where they lived formerly. Steps are also about to be taken to regu- 
larise the proprietary rights of those Arabs who because of the vicissi- 
tudes of war moved from their former villages to other places in 

But it was not only political and security considerations which 
hampered the reintegration of the Arab population in the new eco- 
nomic and social structure. The task was further complicated by the 
almost complete disappearance of any effective Arab leadership. 
When the Israel authorities came to reorganize Arab education, 
health and welfare services, and to provide for the religious needs 
of the Moslem population, they were faced with an acute shortage 
of competent Arab personnel. The position was all the more difficult 
as the Arabs of Palestine had never in the past shown much initia- 
tive in organising their social services, and had relied on the Manda- 
tory Government to provide for their needs. Under the new condi- 
tions any return to the patterns of colonial administration was clearly 
ruled out. Limited though the available personnel might be, the 
Israel authorities had to rely upon Arab cooperation to resuscitate 
Arab economic, educational and social lif e. It is against this complex 
background that Israel's efforts in this most difficult and delicate 
sphere must be assessed. 


The present non-Jewish population of Israel numbers approxi- 
mately 170,000. Of these 119,000 are Moslems, 35,000 Christians and 


15,000 Druzes. According to their regional distribution, they consist 
of approximately 32,000 town dwellers, 120,000 villagers and 18,000 


From the very beginning, the Government made special efforts 
to promote Arab farming and reconstruct the economy of the f ellahin, 
who had suffered acutely from the ravages of war. Apart from the 
general assistance accorded by the Government to all farmers in 
Israel by the grant of subventions, the distribution of seeds, the 
loan of tractors, the extension of irrigation networks and agricul- 
tural instruction, the Ministry of Agriculture granted special loans 
to Arab farmers without guarantee to enable them to replenish their 
stock and accelerate the transition to more intensive farming. During 
the first two years of the State, an amount of IL. 183,000 was allotted 
to Arab farmers for these purposes. The estimates for 1951/52 pro- 
vide for similar loans totalling IL. 200,000. The result of these meas- 
ures has been to enlarge the areas under cultivation and irrigation, 
to improve agricultural methods and to introduce new crops in the 
Arab agricultural sector. The Arab area under dry farming increased 
from 143,000 dunams in 1948/49 to 453,000 dunams in 1949/50, 
that under vegetables from 18,000 in 1948/49 to 39,000 in 1949/50 
and 45,000 dunams in 1950/51, that under tobacco from 6,400 
dunams in 1948/49 to 26,000 in 1949/50 and 48,000 in 1950/51. 
There were similar increases in the areas of pulse and melon culti- 
vation. Vegetable growing on irrigated land increased from 2,500 
dunams in 1948/49 to 6,800 dunams in 1950/51. In the area occu- 
pied by the Beduin tribes in the Negev, State aid was" also given 
on a considerable scale in the form of agricultural loans and the 
provision of employment in public works. During the severe drought 
of 1950/51, financial assistance was accorded to various tribes to 
alleviate their distress. 

Special efforts have been made to encourage the formation of 
cooperative associations. Up to the summer of 1951, 85 Arab coop- 
eratives had been established. This total includes 21 agricultural 
marketing cooperatives, with an average membership of 75; 13 con- 
sumers' cooperatives with a membership of 55 — 60; 8 tobacco grow- 
ing cooperatives and a number of smaller associations. The Jewish 
Federation of Labour has spent considerable sums on fostering the 


growth of an Arab cooperative movement and in this connection 
has founded a "Workers and Peasants Fund" ("Sanduq al-Ummal 
wal-Fallahin") with a capital of IL. 100,000 to promote economic, 
and in particular cooperative, enterprise among the Arab peasantry. 
The number of cooperatives established with such aid amounted to 
23, with a total membership of 900. 


Problems in the towns were far harder to solve. The remaining 
Arab skilled workers, artisans, dock and railway workers, drivers, 
etc., had comparatively little difficulty in adapting themselves to 
new conditions. Wages of such workers are going up progressively 
and are at present higher than in any other Middle Eastern country. 
For skilled and many unskilled workers full equality of wages with 
Jewish labour has been achieved. Where Arab workers are still 
employed at lower wages — e.g. in particular those employed by 
Arab firms — the Government and the Jewish Federation of Labour 
are working towards the goal of full equality and the trend in this 
direction is unmistakable. On the other hand, those strata of the 
Arab urban population whose economic existence was previously 
based on the presence of a populous Arab community had to seek 
other modes of employment. Every effort was made by the Israel 
authorities to find employment for former government clerks. Teach- 
ers and religious officials, too, have for the most part been reinstated. 


Hospital facilities, clinics and out-patient departments, as well as 
medical treatment, are available in Israel to all inhabitants without 
distinction. There is no separate Arab health service, but the Health 
Ministry devotes special attention to the needs of the Arab com- 
munity. In 1951, it maintained twenty-nine clinics in Arab areas, 
four of them mobile clinics and two serving especially the Beduin 
tribes in the Negev. Hospital facilities in the Arab areas comprised 
365 beds, but Arabs are, of course, also admitted to the general 
hospitals. Apart from the medical facilities provided by the Govern- 
ment, the extensive services of the "Kupat Holim," the Sick Fund of 
the Jewish Federation of Labour, are available to the Arab members 
of the Federation (numbering approximately 11,000) and to their 



Shortly after the conclusion of hostilities, social welfare activi- 
ties were begun in the Arab areas. Offices, now numbering twelve, 
were set up in Nazareth, Acre, Jaffa, Lydda, Ramie and in Arab 
villages of Eastern and Western Galilee. As hardly any qualified 
Arab social welfare workers were available, special courses were 
organized for training Arab personnel. All the graduates of these 
courses are now employed by the Ministry for Social Welfare. The 
assistance rendered includes the distribution of food, clothing and 
footwear and the care of babies, adolescents, aged, sick and dis- 
abled persons. The Ministry operates twenty food centres in Arab 
villages at which 3,000 children receive meals. In a number of places 
courses for needlework, basket weaving and raffia work have been 
organised. In Acre an old age home has been established. From 
December, 1948 to March, 1951 the Ministry spent IL. 66,863 on 
Arab welfare work. 


The amount spent by the Government of Israel on the education 
of Arab children amounted in each of the fiscal years of 1948/49 
and 1949/50 to approximately IL. 200,000, and in the fiscal year 
1951/52 to about IL. 266,000. While the Jewish population had 
been used during the Mandatory era to maintain its school system 
largely by its own efforts, the Arab community had in this respect 
depended mainly on the Government and on the foreign missions. 
It was difficult for the Israel authorities to wean the Arab popula- 
tion of these long engrained habits. Under the Israel "Compulsory 
Education Act, 1949," the local authorities are required to bear a 
certain part of the education budget, in the main the cost of the 
provision and maintenance of school buildings. The Arab villages 
and municipalities at first complied very inadequately with this 
requirement of the law, and the Government of Israel had to spend 
large sums on Arab elementary education, involving an average 
expenditure per child which was considerably higher than the 
corresponding outlay for Jewish schools. There has, however, been 
a notable improvement in tliis respect in the course of the past 
two years. 

In spite of some initial difficulties, Arab elementary education 
in Israel has made remarkable progress. While the number of Arab 


schools was in December 1948 only 46 with 186 teachers and 7,147 
pupils, the corresponding figures for the end of the scholastic year 
1950/51 were 102 schools, 628 teachers and about 26,000 pupils. 
Among the latter there were about 8,700 girls. These figures refer 
only to the Government schools. In addition, there are about 40 
private schools, mainly maintained by foreign missions and church 
institutions, with approximately 4,500 Arab pupils. The total thus 
amounts to about 140 schools and 30,000 pupils. The increase in the 
number of State-maintained Arab schools from the end of 1948 to 
the summer of 1951 amounts to 122 percent, that in the number of 
teachers to 238 percent, and that in the number of pupils to 240 
percent. While under the Mandatory regime there was one pupil 
for every fifteen Arab inhabitants, the ratio in Israel is now one 
for every six and a half. It will be recalled that the percentage of 
school-age children actually receiving education was 48 percent 
at the end of the Mandatory era. It is now 71 percent, if the settled 
Arab population is taken into account, and 67 percent if the Beduin 
population is included.* The Government of Israel has opened new 
elementary schools in 35 Arab villages which had no schools at all 
under the former regime. 

A further notable advance in the educational sphere has been 
the introduction of modern methods of tuition in the place of the 
old-fashioned and rigid system which formerly governed Arab edu- 
cation. Another innovation is the institution of the kindergarten, 
which was formerly almost unknown to the mass of the Arab popu- 
lation. At present 4,253 Arab children attend State-maintained kin- 
dergartens. The period of elementary school education, which was 
formerly from the ages of six to twelve, has been lengthened, down- 
wards to the age of five and upwards to thirteen. A marked change 
has been wrought in the realm of girls' education. Formerly, girls 
Formed only 20 percent of the Arab school children; the proportion 
has now risen to 34 percent. The Ministry of Education is continuing 
its endeavours to induce Arab parents to send their girls to school. 

One of the most revolutionary changes has been the introduction 
of co-education. Contrary to expectation, this has aroused little oppo- 

* The corresponding percentages for the neighboring Arab countries are — 
Egypt: 47.4 percent; Iraq: 20 percent; Syria: 39.4 percent; Transjordan: 28 


sition on the part of Arab parents. Another important reform has 
been the abolition of corporal punishment in the schools. 

In the sphere of secondary education, progress was more difficult. 
The Israel Education Act does not apply to secondary schools. The 
aim of the State is, for the time being, to provide all children, Jewish 
and Arab, with a sound primary education. Secondary schools are 
left to private or municipal enterprise or to the collective endeavour 
of interested parents. The creation of Arab secondary schools de- 
pends, therefore, upon the initiative of the Arab population itself. 
Jewish secondary schools are open to Arab pupils with a sufficient 
knowledge of the Hebrew language, and a number of Arab boys 
have availed themselves of this opportunity. The Government is 
encouraging the establishment of Arab secondary schools by open- 
ing extension classes which are attached to elementary schools. It 
has also instituted a special matriculation examination for Arab 
students with Arabic and Arab literature as main subjects of examina- 
tion. About ten Arab students have enrolled in the Hebrew Uni- 
versity of Jerusalem. 

The Government has further set up evening classes for Arab 
working boys. In 1951 such classes were attached to eight elementary 
schools and were attended by about 400 students. 

The progress of Arab education in Israel is greatly hampered 
by the shortage of trained teachers. Pending the establishment of 
an Arab Teachers' Seminary, for which plans are ready, prepara- 
tory courses have been organised for the training of Arab school 
teachers. In these 107 teachers, male and female, have to date 
received a basic training. Nearly all the graduates of these courses 
are at present teaching in Arab elementary schools. 


"Kol Israel," the Israel broadcasting station, maintains an Arabic 
service. It broadcasts daily for one and three quarter hours in three 
sessions — morning, noon and evening. The broadcasts include three 
news bulletins, weekly talks on current events, press reviews and 
summaries of proceedings in parliament, as well as lectures on popu- 
lar and scientific subjects. A special half hour a day is allotted to 
programmes for Arab women. Arab music and songs make up a 
substantial part of the programme. "Kol Israel" also broadcasts 
greetings from Arabs in Israel to their relatives abroad. It is the 


only Arabic broadcasting station which regularly gives talks also in 
colloquial Arabic. Eight minutes on the morning of each weekday 
and fifteen minutes each Friday morning are devoted to a recital 
of chapters from the Koran. On Sunday, Christian services are broad- 
cast. Special religious broadcasts are also made on Moslem and 
Christian holidays, and not infrequently the service is relayed directly 
from the mosque or the church. A considerable extension of these 
Arabic services is planned in the near future. A central Arabic 
library has been set up in Jaffa which contains more than 80,000 
volumes and many valuable old manuscripts. The Ministry for 
Religious Affairs has salvaged a great number of Arabic manuscripts 
and documents, which have been handed over to the Jaffa Moslem 

The Arab press of Israel consists of one daily newspaper and two 
weeklies. Some of the Arab newspapers which during the Mandatory 
era appeared in what is now Israel, migrated to the Kingdom of 
Jordan. Others ceased to exist. Most of the professional Arab journal- 
ists left the country. 


The departure of the upper strata of Arab society during the 
period of hostilities has also affected Arab religious life and institu- 
tions. Together with the rest, most of the ecclesiastical personnel 
of the Moslem community — muftis, qadhis (religious judges), 
preachers, prayer leaders and teachers in religious institutions — 
left the country. The Government of Israel thus found itself faced 
with the difficult task of providing religious facilities for its Moslem 
citizens. The Arab inhabitants themselves showed as little initiative 
in this sphere as in those of health and education. A special Depart- 
ment for the Moslem and Druze communities was set up in the 
Ministry for Religious Affairs. In spite of considerable difficulties 
this Department has succeeded in re-establishing Moslem religious 
life, in reorganising the Moslem religious courts, which are invested 
with jurisdiction in all matters of personal status, and in making 
available the funds of Moslem endowments (waqfs) for the main- 
tenance of Moslem religious institutions. In the summer of 1951, 
there officiated in Israel 4 Moslem qadhis, 12 officials of the Moslem 
Religious Courts, 33 registrars of marriages, 70 imams (prayer lead- 
ers), 6 preachers, 30 muezzins, 18 mosque beadles and gardeners, 


16 watchmen and 4 clerks. The total of the Moslem religious officials 
in Israel amounted in the summer of 1951 to 193, all paid by the Gov- 
ernment or out of the proceeds of the Waqf administration. The 
Ministry for Religious Affairs has furthermore broken new ground 
by setting up two lay councils of the Moslem community who enjoy 
a wide measure of autonomy in the administration of Moslem re- 
ligious concerns. Further such councils are now in the course of 
formation. The Ministry also employs a number of Moslem officials 
on its permanent staff. It has further set up a special section for the 
preservation of Moslem religious buildings and published a com- 
prehensive report on this subject. 

The religious life of the Christian Arabs was much less affected 
by the war and the Arab exodus than that of the Moslems, as most 
of the Christian Churches always maintained their own staff and 
institutions. The fact that a number of Christian denominations were 
led by non-Arab clergy facilitated the uninterrupted maintenance 
of religious services. Moreover, as previously stated, the proportion 
of Arab Christians who left the country was considerably less than 
that of the Moslem Arabs, with the result that the day-to-day life 
of the Christian community has been less disturbed. The Min- 
istry for Religious Affairs maintains a Department for Christian 
Affairs, which works in close contact with the heads of the various 


The Budget of the State of Israel draws no distinction between 
the Jewish and Arab sectors of the population. Yet, apart from the 
general items which benefit equally all inhabitants of the country, 
there are a number of specific budgetary provisions for Arab needs, 
such as IL. 26,000 for Moslem and IL. 15,000 for Christian religious 
purposes, IL. 30,000 for special public works undertaken to provide 
employment for Arab villagers during the severe drought of last 
winter and IL. 60,000 for public works in the Beduin areas of the 
Negev. In the Estimates for 1949/50 a separate allocation of IL. 
110,000 was included for Arab education. In fact, approximately 
IL. 200,000 was spent during that year for this purpose. In the 
Estimates for 1950/51 provision for Arab education was included 
in the general Education Estimate. It amounted to IL. 265,000. 
There are also special allocations for additional welfare work in 


Arab villages and grants-in-aid to Arab municipalities and local 


Arabs in Israel have thus far shown little initiative in the sphere 
of public activities. The old parties, societies, clubs and newspapers 
have practically all vanished, and the vacuum has not yet been 
filled. The leading personalities who remained in the country have 
lost a great deal of their former influence and hardly appear in 
public save as holders of municipal office. The only exception to 
the general political indifference and apathy in the Arab camp is 
represented by the Communists, who are active and vocal. As they 
did not oppose partition and the establishment of the State of Israel, 
they are able to claim that they had no share in the disastrous 
nationalist policies of the orthodox Arab leadership. There is no 
separate Arab Communist party, but the Arabs exercise considerable 
influence in the unified Israel Communist Party. Arab votes cast 
for the Communist list represented 22 percent of the Arab total 
in the general election of February 1949 and 16.6 percent in the 
general election of July 1951. Out of a total number of 120 mem- 
bers (112 Jews and 8 Arabs) of the present Knesset (Israel Parlia- 
ment), there are 5 Communists (3 Jews and 2 Arabs). 

The total number of Arab deputies has increased from 3 in the 
first Knesset to 8 in the second. Altogether, about 70,000 Arabs voted 
in the second general election, representing 83 percent of those on 
the register — a higher rate of participation than among Jews. The 
Arab women in Israel are the only Arab women anywhere in the 
Middle East who have ever gone to the polls. 

Not all Arabs voted for Arab candidates, though most of them 
did. Of the eight Arabs elected, two are Communists (both Chris- 
tian), one (also a Christian) was returned on the list of Mapam 
(left-wing Socialist party), and five (two Moslems, one Christian 
and two Druzes ) represent between them three Arab groups which 
generally support Mapai (the Israel Labour Party, main pillar of 
the present Coalition Government). 

In the Knesset, Arab members speak, as a rule, in Arabic, and 
a verbatim translation of their speeches into Hebrew follows imme- 
diately, while all Hebrew speeches are simultaneously translated 
into Arabic and picked up by the Arab members through earphones. 


In general, Arabic enjoys virtually the status of an official lan- 
guage, Hebrew being the State language. Coins, postage stamps 
and banknotes have Arabic, in addition to Hebrew, inscriptions. The 
Official Gazette, in which laws and ordinances are published, ap- 
pears in Arabic as well as in Hebrew. In the Arab districts all official 
notices are issued in Arabic. Arabs are free to address Government 
Departments and plead in courts in their own language. Arabic is 
the medium of instruction in all State-maintained Arab schools. 

There now exist a number of non-political Arab organisations in 
Israel: youth movements, women's societies and sports clubs, as well 
as several organisations established by churches and religious bodies. 
Their number amounted in 1951 to approximately seventy. None 
of these groups plays any significant part in the public life of the 
country. The only exceptions are the two trade union organisations: 
the "Labour League," affiliated with the Jewish Federation of Labour 
and comprising 34 branches with approximately 11,000 permanent 
paying members, including 800 women; and the communistically 
inclined "Arab Workers Congress" with 22 branches and a member- 
ship estimated at 2,500. A third Arab trade union, "Ar-Rabita" (the 
League), founded at the end of 1948 in Nazareth, mainly by Chris- 
tian Arabs, with the active assistance of the Greek-Catholic clergy, 
merged in 1951 with the "Labour League." 


The above summary cannot in the nature of tilings convey more 
than a transient picture. The position of the Arab minority in Israel 
has not yet fully crystallised. The aftermath of war, expressed in 
the maintenance of a military governorate in certain border zones, 
still awaits liquidation. Numbers of Arabs are returning to Israel 
under the scheme for the reunion of separated families. Others are 
leaving Israel to take up residence in one of the neighbouring coun- 
tries or overseas. A certain measure of Arab emigration is likely to 
continue for some time, hailing mainly from those social strata which, 
as described above, cannot hope to be gainfully integrated in the 
economy of Israel. Any larger immigration of Arabs into Israel is 
ruled out by the facts of the economic and security situation. Since 
the Arab exodus, the country has absorbed over 700,000 Jewish immi- 


grants, of whom about 250,000 came from Arab countries, most of 
them in destitute condition. 

The normalisation of the position of the Arab minority within 
Israel will undoubtedly take time. Towards that integration the 
Government and people of Israel, including the Arab minority itself, 
will have patiently and consciously to strive. The process is seriously 
hampered by the intransigent attitude and active hostility of the 
Arab Governments and their Palestinian collaborators. The same 
political groups which stirred up the suicidal war against Israel, 
which induced the mass of the Arab population to leave the country 
by promises of an early victory and rich booty, which are obstructing 
an effective settlement of the Arab refugee problem by refusing an 
agreed peace settlement with Israel — these same groups are also pre- 
venting those Arabs who chose to remain in Israel and have been 
accepted as its rightful citizens from settling down under the new 
conditions. It is only when this hostility and tension have become 
things of the past that there can be an effective integration of the 
Arab minority in the State of Israel.